I had been researching Black lesbian writers for a few years, and I came to realize that the challenges that the women faced in regards to publishing still existed (lack of diversity in publishing; the [false] notion that lesbian literature was now “mainstream;” lack of access to agents, editors, and other publishing professionals; and more than anything, the notion that our stories were somehow unworthy or had no literary merit). I decided right then that I could do something about that.
I love beauty beauty beauty in writing. Updike, Nabokov. Also songwriters like Neko Case, Fiona Apple, Sufjan Stevens…people who write about both ordinary and strange things in gorgeous, heartbreaking ways. That’s what we’re going for at WhiskeyPaper. Also, we want anyone/everyone to be able to read and enjoy—from people who teach writing to people who may not even read more than one book a year.
We never planned for more than one book, but momentum and book sales kept propelling us. Twenty years later, we have published 73 titles and 600 writers, we run an independent bookstore not far from that coffee shop and operate a national residency program and annual writers conference. This month, one of our novels, Minnow by James McTeer, was named to Kirkus Review’s Best of Fiction 2015 list. These days, we have seven people on the payroll, which is really pretty amazing, considering we are located in a small city in South Carolina.